This is the time when we cling to the last glimmer of summer. The kids are back in school. The big box stores have, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas merchandise available. But why do ‘they’ rush the holidays so much? It’s time to start thinking about the holiday season you think. Why can’t Thanksgiving goodies not appear on shelves until October 31st? Why can’t the Christmas and Hanukkah season kick off on Black Friday? After all there is the better part of four months to do all that needs to be done to make the holidays special and create memories. Why rush life away? Why all the commercialism? Why be a pawn of some number crunching merchandiser tucked away in a big box home office?
Being relatively new to retail sales, I initially held firm to the thought that the end of one fall holiday signaled and actually permitted the next fall holiday to appear on shelves. During my first few years, I had a new shop in an developing area and witnessed people came in starting the last week in August ‘to just look’. They indicated they’d ‘be back.’ Didn’t see them until the New Year.
I slowly came to realize that ‘just looking’ in August is code for ‘I-want-to-get-my-holiday-gift-giving-shopping-done-but-I’m-not-admitting-that-to-anyone-yet’ and their lives really did get so busy where they didn’t have time to come back until the Christmas wrapping papers had been recycled.
The truth is both retailers and consumers have pushed and pulled one another to the current reality where you can (and should) do your fourth quarter shopping by early September.
The 100 days will fly by and be filled with lots of “to-do’s” including those that get added to your list at the last minute by other people. Gifts To Go has developed a four part approach to helping you stay sane by pacing yourself looking at the entire holiday season and developing your personal plan of attack. We’ll publish one of the four parts each month now through early December.
The series posts will appear as follows:
- September 2016 – Holiday Help: Getting Started
- October 2016 -Holiday Help: Budgeting, Shopping and Traveling
- November 2016 – Holiday Help: Shipping and Packing
- December 2016 – Holiday Help: Gift Wrapping and Presentation
And now, let’s get started . This month’s task is to sit quietly with a pen/paper or iPad and think through each of the bullet points we raise below. Once you have your responses sit with your significant other (and anyone else with the clout to alter your plans) to combine your thoughts and resolve any differences. Here goes:
- To whom will you be giving gifts? Immediate family/household? Extended family within an hour’s drive? Extended family living more than an hour away? Friends? Kids’ friends? Co-workers? Teachers? Service providers such as hair stylists, delivery persons, landscapers, drivers?
It’s too early to be overly-concerned about what those gifts will be, you want to determine who gets gifts first and then work on Budgeting and Shopping in Part Two.
- Where will you be spending the holidays (consider Thanksgiving and Christmas or Hanukkah)? Will your significant other and other immediate family members be with you? Will you be the host? Will you be traveling? Will you need a pet-sitter? Do you need extra chairs for the dining room table? Do you have sufficient place settings? Will you want to repaint the living room? If you’re not at home, will you be staying with friends or family or hotel? Will inclement weather possibly affect your plans? Do you have a celebratory back up plan if so?
It’s important to iron out the ‘where’ and ‘who’ question with everyone who might have an opinion that could impact you (spouse, college aged children, in-laws, close friends). Don’t wait for them to start the conversation with you. We recommend getting this one settled early as we’ve seen too many holiday plans turned upside down and budgets blown when a sister and her new husband decide at the last minute they were joining you at your home.
- Will you participate in multiple celebrations? In different locales? Are you aware of all the people involved in each festivity? When will each occur? Will you need a ‘divide and conquer’ plan where you and your significant other are in different locations on the holiday due to family/friends in different areas? Will you then celebrate again when you reunite?
When you’re comfortable you have identified and resolved the ‘who, where and when’ questions, start to tackle the ‘what’ question before we take your holiday planning one step further next month by establishing a budget and creating the to-do lists.